Working from Home: The New Normal
Not that long ago, the possibility of allowing employees to work from home sounded like a far-fetched idea to most employers. “How can we trust that the employee is getting the job done without supervision?” was the question many managers asked when talking about this topic. Fortunately, thanks to technology, telecommuting is more tangible nowadays. Companies are more open to adopting a work-from-home policy, some even have positions that are 100% remote. Companies are finally understanding that this model helps them break down barriers in attracting the right talent to help them grow their business, even if they are miles apart.
I am the best example that working from home is possible – and that leading a successful team who gets their jobs done is realistic. As Patra’s Chief Operating Officer of U.S. Operations, I am part of a company that lives and breathes the work-from-home model. Actually, this is one of the things of which we are most proud. Thanks to this initiative, we have extremely talented people working for us all over the world. Since day one, our CEO, John Simpson, had this as a vision for the company. After all, we are all about innovation, so it’s only natural that we practice what we preach.
People who work from home express that they are more productive since they have fewer interruptions. When you work from home you don’t have the usual disruptions of office life, like being pulled into a conference room for a last-minute meeting or having coworkers frequently stop by your desk to ask questions.
Another huge benefit is that it helps employees save money on work-related expenses! You don’t have to worry about gas, lunch or work clothes. Working from home also allows people to move to the places they have always dreamed of, without sacrificing any of their career goals or growth.
“Working from home has brought a positive aspect to my life. The fact that I can have a great job and regain the many hours a week spent commuting has been wonderful. In addition, I feel just as close to my team here at Patra, as I did when I worked in an office setting. The communication tools we have in place help us all feel connected and part of a group, while management instills an open-door policy.” – Senior Manager OnDemand Services at Patra
Is Working from Home the Right Move for Me?
If you are considering switching to a career that allows you to work from home, one thing you should know is that it’s not designed for everybody… and that’s ok. For example, if you enjoy being surrounded by people and love the feel of going into an office every day, working from home may not be the right path for you to follow. Two key questions you can ask yourself are:
· Do I have the discipline it takes? Discipline is key! You will be tempted to stop what you’re doing to do that load of laundry that is waiting for you. Do you have what it takes to focus on work and not get distracted with other chores? Be honest and don’t set yourself up for failure if you don’t have the personality for this structure.
· Am I ready to make technology a part of my day to day? Most companies that have a work-from-home policy rely heavily on tools like Slack, Zoom and Skype to keep communication flowing and track what’s being worked on. You need to make sure you are willing to learn how to integrate these tools into your daily tasks.
Ideas to Keep the Team Connected
For some, working from home can represent isolation and complete loneliness, but this doesn’t have to be the norm. At Patra, we make it our main goal to make sure the team feels connected. Here are some ways we accomplish that:
· Annual corporate events: we create an agenda that has meetings, team building activities, social outings, and fun activities.
· Support groups: a program that provides an opportunity for our global employees to connect through one-on-one meetings to learn more about one another and celebrate each other’s cultures.
· Other events: once a year we celebrate charity events where we bring together customers, partners, family, and friends.
“As a manager, working remotely has its challenges when it comes to building camaraderie within a team. At Patra, this hurdle is overcome by a strong corporate culture which is infused within the employees. This culture is reinforced by regular and open communication from the top of the org chart on down. Things like regularly scheduled company meetings and day-to-day communications via Zoom, using cameras, getting together in person for meetings periodically at the corporate office, and annual in person company events help build this environment. We are able to enjoy all of the benefits of working remotely and still experience being part of a close-knit group.” –Financial Controller at Patra
Trends show that working from home is a practice that shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, it will continue to grow. From a leadership role, I encourage companies to adapt this. Don’t be afraid. With the right structure in place, it’s a model that will work out and will make your employees happier.
What are your thoughts on this topic? If you have any questions or are seeking advice on how to manage a remote team, feel free to reach out. I’d love to share some of my experiences with you.